Eccles residents have set up a campaign to save The Unicorn by re-opening it as a community-owned pub.
They are getting behind a ‘Save and Reopen The Unicorn pub’ Facebook group to challenge plans to demolish the 100-year-old pub on Liverpool Road to build new housing.
Owner the Wellington Pub Company argues that new accommodation in the area is ‘much needed’ and says there are a number of alternative pubs nearby.
Campaigner Lee Hodson, who first set up the campaign on Facebook, says he did not expect the depth of feeling.
He said: “I started off the campaign because I felt like nobody was doing anything to save our iconic pub. I set the page up and didn’t know how many people were actually as passionate as me on saving piece of history.”
The Facebook group for the campaign has almost 400 members, with many posts of nostalgic memories of the pub.
Gary Parsons, who works with Lee on the campaign, said: “We have applied for the pub to be added to the Local Asset of Community Value register so we can try and prevent the pub from being demolished but also to show that with local investment it can be a community pub again.
“So far we have contacted various support networks including Camra, the Plunkett Foundation and Save Britain’s Heritage.
“We have had some excellent support from a lady called Jess from Jericho Road Solutions, who have experienced similar issues with communities losing their local hubs.
“If the Unicorn was to be saved we envisage it to be a local thriving bistro pub that offers great hearty food but also serves local beers that can be served to the community using a micro brewery on site.
“It would also provide an opportunity to give back to the local community by providing jobs, that in the current economic climate are much needed.”
Lee added: “We also have an investor interested to put funds into the building or even to make an offer to purchase it.
“I’m very upset about the proposal, it makes me slightly angry that the owner could just demolish this beautiful building without a thought of how long it’s stood the test of time just to build some homes.”
Gary said: “People did not want to see this historic pub that has served the area since at least 1895 be demolished. It would be tragic.
“I think saving the Unicorn would mean a lot the the local community who have not received any support at all to save their pub.
“The pub means a lot to me because it is a historical building that doesn’t deserve to be demolished but I also worked there for three years in the late 1990s.”
The original Unicorn once sat on Harrison Street and was built in the 1820s, nicknamed ‘Pretty Margaret’s” after the landlady, Margaret Greaves. In 1895 the pub was remodelled to how it looks today by the Rochdale and Oldham Brewery Company.
The planning application by The Wellington Pub company states: “The proposal represents a policy compliant scheme which would make effective use of under-utilised land and is an appropriate form of development on previously developed land within an urban area which would provide much needed housing.
“Given the existence of alternative facilities within the same catchment area, the proposed redevelopment of the public house would not represent an unnecessary loss of a valued facility.”